Month: March 2014

Leaflet featured on BBC Radio now available

Now available to all visitors, the leaflet Beyond Barren: Putting Childlessness into Perspective served as the backdrop to my interview with BBC London Radio host Jo Good on 19 March.

“It’s a fantastic piece,” the talk show hostess said.

No wonder I have decided to make the piece public, which has been available only to registered users and journalists in the past. Now, visitors can download it here, directly from My Books.

Thanks to the women who shared their stories for the piece, it has been a valuable resource in getting out the overall message of The Barrenness: finding happiness in your own space, whether a mother or not.

Since I released the novel in 2011, the topic of being childless or child-free has become a hot topic. Are they one in the same? Some think so, some do not. One researcher explains that childlessness is not by choice, being child-free is.

In any case, it is a topic that is off the shelves so to speak and on the table. And with a bit of luck, this unto itself, is slowly lifting the stigmas often associated with people who do not have children. Long may the discussions continue, at least until all is well that ends well.

Age-old Secret out of the Bag

Shush! Never ask a woman her age. And certainly don’t expect her to volunteer it. In my grandma’s day, this was definitely the case.

And while there are women now who still prefer not to talk about the matter, many of us are happy to let the cat out of the bag.

I have my say on the subject in my latest Huff Post blog. Not only am I happy to talk about my age, but also happy to tell why.

Check out the full blog here and do have your say or keep quiet. It is a woman’s prerogative, irrespective of age old beliefs or new ones.

Bath offers the best of the British Countryside

This past weekend, Paul and I had a short beak in one of my favourite places in the UK outside of London—Bath.

A historic city, known to many for the Roman Baths and Pulteney Bridge, for example, Bath is a rather regal city that also happens to be very pretty, and when I think of the word pretty, I think engaging. From the Georgian buildings to the lovely cobblestone streets, it is a great place for simply being.

This visit, we happened upon a National Trust property called Prior Park, just outside of Bath, where we saw the city from a different viewpoint. Built by Ralph Allen in the 1700s to exhibit the beautiful honey-coloured stone that is seen around Bath today, Prior Park offers breath-taking views of Bath.

And if one so happens to tire of looking at the pretty city in the distance, the garden itself has plenty to offer, including the mansion, now a private school. As it was the best weather weekend of the year, a tease of what’s to come, we had about a one-hour jaunt discovering the landscape garden.

Finally, Bath tops my favourites in Britain because it is an easy day trip from London, but offers great overnight accommodation, too.  This time around, we  stayed at Bailbrook House Hotel, a great find, if I must say so myself, though I didn’t find it.

Never mind, a good time was had by all, in this favourite hotspot.

Ten-year-old changing the face of girl’s sports

Being an expat has its upside, exploring a new world, but there are downsides too, not that I want to dwell on any of them. Most are just trivial things such as finding a new doctor, hairdresser, etc.… Once cracked, no need to dwell on it.

But there is one downside that simply can’t be cracked—missing one’s family and friends. I don’t dwell on this either, as I try to live my life where I am, and fortunately, I get back to the US quite often.

Still I miss a big chunk of day- to-day life, particularly in the lives of nieces and nephews. So often I hear through other family members about their successes and the doting aunt I am, offer up my congratulations privately.

On this one occasion though, I have to publicly commend my youngest niece on her latest success.

Since December, Miss J and I have become as thick as thieves, so to speak, talking on Face Time weekly. Together, we are working on an all-around better Miss J health-wise and girl oh girl, this kid is excelling.

But that is not what I want to brag about or congratulate Miss J on for now.  We’ll celebrate this in a few months. In the meantime,  I must commend this straight A student on being a multi-talented softball player.

While softball has been around for as long as I can remember, I do think the professional women’s league is starting to take off. And with girls like J on the scene, pitching at 55 to 58 miles per hour at age 10, softball is sure to command big league attention. On average, girls her age pitch at about 45 mph.

This past Saturday, J struck out nine players. And that is not all. This kid was responsible for six of the seven points her team made for a 7 to 3 win. She made two runs herself and also brought four people in with her batting. I am told these are called RBIs, thus she made four RBIs.

J is not only making history, but she is also making a difference in the way young girls approach sports.  She demonstrates beautifully what a girl can do through sports as well as academics.

No pressure kiddo and don’t go getting the big head. Just keep focused and you will no doubt set new trends and change the face of women’s sports someday.

Let’s hear it for the girls.

American pancakes for Pancake Day?

So what are you giving up for Lent? I’ll never forget the first time I was asked this question and who asked me. More than twenty-five years ago, when I had a fun stint as a petite model (anybody remember that), one of the more serious models posed this question.

Though a Christian all my life, I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about and shamefully didn’t let on. No Google at my fingertips in those days, I made do somehow, even if I didn’t understand it. Since, I have learned that Lent is the time during which some Christians (Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, etc.) give up indulgences, often food, for forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

Now an Anglican, I observe Lent, even if my way of looking at it is simplified. And as we prepare for the season, I am struck by the many Britons, Christian or not, that are jumping on the band wagon so to speak to celebrate Pancake Day today, also known as Shrove Tuesday.

Over the years, folks have seized this opportunity to eat pancakes heartily in light of the abstention that they or others will practice until Easter Sunday. This might explain why recipes and tips for making pancakes have shot up in popularity over the last little while.  Some can be found in major newspapers and magazines.

Yesterday, while driving back from a meeting near Sloane Square, a radio announcer confessed, how his pancake making attempts went horribly wrong. One paper suggests that he use a recipe, any recipe. Just don’t mix in eggs, flour and milk at will, expecting to get edible pancakes. It’s not rocket science, is it? Any American knows that, even if we don’t make our own pancakes—more on that later.

The problem lies within the Brits idea of a pancake–a thinner, more crepe like food that is supposed to be a dessert.  No wonder there are so many flops.

For a sure shot, however, I suggest adopting American pancakes, be it for breakfast or for afters. And though this pancake loving expat has never made a pancake from scratch, she gets an excellent result every time. How? She resorts to a pancake mix.

Yes, it is mass produced packaged food, my dear trainer and all the rest who are gasping. Forgive me, if you will. Though I steer clear of such stuff as much as possible, pancakes are an exception. Hence, my stocking up on Aunt Jemima mix whenever I am in the U.S. Perfect, every time, whether I add blueberries or just enjoy them plain.

Now, I know Aunt Jemima may sound a bit stereotypical to some. I’ve had my say about this character over the years, too, but these days, this American favourite aunt deserves a bit of slack. If you ask me, she has kept up with the times. Most recently, she looks to have shed a bit of weight and has definitely splashed out on a soft, modern hairdo.

All she has to do now is cross the pond in volume, that is, and bring a bit of healthy competition with her. I don’t doubt that pancake mix, like many American specialty items, can be found in select shops, for a small fortune, which might be why folks in numbers haven’t caught on to this phenomenon.

In the meantime, however, what are you giving up? Me? Not pancakes, for sure. But as this is Shrove Tuesday, I’m at least in the know. Happy Pancake Day, to all!

Note: Shrove is taken from the word shrive, meaning to confess. Thus, participants traditionally confess what they need to absolve and spend the forty-day period of Lent, practicing abstention.